U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake has addressed border wall security and the futures of young immigrants in the country with a compromise bill he introduced Thursday.
The Arizona Republican’s proposed legislation — the Border Security and Deferred Action Recipient Relief Act — would provide $1.6 billion in funding for border fortification and would give conditional resident status to DACA recipients and other children.
The other undocumented children have to have been living in the United States “continuously since 2012.”
“If we can protect these DACA recipients and provide solutions to better secure our borders at the same time, that’s a win-win,” he said on the Senate floor.
The conditional status would last for 10 years if they meet certain education or employment terms. A green card could come later, as could citizenship.
“This bill is the best way to thread the needle to deliver what the president has asked for, what the Congress wants and what my constituents in Arizona deserve,” Flake said.
His bill arrived the same day as the deadline for young immigrants to renew their DACA status. The deferred-action program, which protects tens of thousands of “Dreamers” from deportation, was rescinded by President Donald Trump’s administration in September.
The programs ends in March.
The DACA portion also stipulates that recipients also must be “pursuing vocational or higher education, enlisted in the military, or are gainfully employed. … maintaining “good moral character,” … maintaining consistent residence in the United States for a period of ten years; and either completing their three years of military service or receiving an honorable discharge, completing their vocational or higher education, or maintaining gainful employment for four of the proceeding five years.”
Trump has said he wants Congress to come up with a solution that would “legalize DACA.”
He met with Democrats last month to move closer to a DACA deal. No agreement has been made.
This week, he met with Republican leadership.
Trump and Flake have publicly butted heads over some issues, but Arizona’s junior senator has overwhelmingly voted in agreement with the president’s position.
Parts of the bill have already passed the House with bipartisan support, including border fortification, new access roads for Border Patrol and a provision designed to deport gang members and anyone in a cartel.
“We have a better situation on the border than we’ve had in a while, but there are still measures that need to be taken. … It will benefit us all.”